J.S. Klar, J. -
(1.) THIS order will dispose of two appeals i.e. FA. No. 107 of 2012, SBI Life Insurance Company Limited v. Amrit Kaur & Ors. and F.A. No. 147 of 2012, State Bank of Patiala & Anr. v. Amrit Kaur & Anr., since both the appeals have arisen out of the same impugned order dated 8.12.2011 passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Faridkot (in short, "the District Forum") and can be conveniently decided by means of this common order. The facts are taken from F.A. No. 107 of 2012 and the parties would be referred by their status in this appeal. The brief facts are that, Smt. Amrit Kaur, respondent No. 1
No. 1/complainant filed a complaint under Section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (in short, "the Act") against the opposite parties, on the allegations that opposite party Nos. 2 and 3 are the agents of opposite party No. 1 and at the behest of opposite party Nos. 2 and 3, who are agents of opposite party No. 1, a proposal was entered for the SBI Plus II Pension Policy and hence the complainant is consumer of the opposite parties under the Act.
The complainant opened her bank account in State Bank of Patiala, Faridkot vide Account No. 55100524535. The complainant took the pension policy No. 28010749209 Unit + 2 - Pension on 8.11.2007 by depositing the instalment of premium of Rs. 90,000. Even the husband of the complainant is an illiterate person and taking undue benefit of this fact that the complainant and her husband are laymen, the policy was got applied after getting the amount withdrawn from the bank account of the complainant to the tune of Rs. 90,000. It was represented by the opposite parties that the policy would mature in three years and the complainant would be awarded interest @ 12% or more than one and a half of the amount being so deposited. The amount was to be deposited only once as premium and thereafter, it was the option of the complainant either to deposit it or not. After the lapse of three years, the complainant was asked by opposite party Nos. 2 and 3 to apply for return of the deposited amount of the above policy. Keeping the complainant in dark for three years, a sum of Rs. 68,588 was got deposited by the opposite parties in her said account on 15.4.2011. The complainant came to know subsequently that the alleged policy was actually a market related policy. At the time of getting cover note/application filled from the complainant, it was disclosed to her that 12% profit or one and a half more amount of Rs. 90,000 would be released to her to the extent of Rs. 1.35 lacs after maturity of three years. The complainant has been paid less amount of Rs. 25,412 even out of her premiums amount of Rs. 90,000. Neither any interest @ 12% p.a. on the amount of Rs. 90,000 nor one and a half amount of the premium amount to the tune of Rs. 1.35 lacs was returned to the complainant. The complainant served a legal notice on 10.5.2011 on the opposite parties, whereby opposite parties issued the letter to the effect that the policy number has not been mentioned therein. The opposite parties are, thus, deficient in providing service to the complainant and are, thus, guilty of unfair trade practice to the complainant. The complainant has accordingly prayed that the opposite parties be directed to pay her Rs. 25,412 being the less amount of original premium of Rs. 90,000 along with interest @12% p.a. over the amount of premium of Rs. 90,000 or to pay Rs. 1.35 lacs at the time of maturity of the policy after three years, besides compensation of Rs. 20,000 and costs of litigation.
(2.) NOTICE of this complaint was issued to the opposite parties by the District Forum after admitting the complaint. Opposite party No. 1 -SBI Life Insurance Co. filed its separate written reply, admitting that it grants insurance coverage to individuals through Individual insurances having some commonality among them. It was averred in preliminary objections that opposite party No. 1 had already discharged the contractual obligation under the policy in this case and hence, the complaint is without any substance. The opposite party No. 1 has issued the policy in good faith and the complainant has not raised any issue pertaining to terms and conditions of the policy and rattier applied for surrender of the policy. There is no question of any deficiency in service on the part of opposite party No. 1. The opposite party No. 1 has received the proposal form in compliance with all the requirements along with premium amount. There is, thus, no dispute of terms and conditions of the policy. The opposite party No. 1 never forced the complainant to go in for insurance. Opposite party No. 1 is not privy to the transaction between opposite party Nos. 2 and 3 and the complainant. On merits, it was pleaded that the proposer is expected to ascertain the terms and conditions of the policy before signing the proposal form. There is even a provision for cancellation of policy under 'Free Look Period" clause, if the policy holder does not agree with the terms and conditions of the policy. After the elapse of three years, the complainant applied for surrender of policy on 11.4.2011 and accordingly, surrender value of Rs. 68,588 was paid through direct credit in the account of the complainant at State Bank of Patiala. The policy would acquire surrender value provided that at least one entire policy years' premium has been paid. The contract of insurance has to incorporate the terms and conditions of the policy document. Opposite party No. 1 denied the contents of the complaint. The complainant who is a nurse, signed the proposal form after duly understanding its terms and conditions. Opposite party No. 1 vehemently denied any deficiency in service on its part. Opposite party No. 1 sent reply to the legal notice to the complainant, requesting the policy details. Thereafter, opposite party No. 1 replied in detail to the legal notice of the complainant on 25.6.2011. Opposite party No. 1 prayed for dismissal of the complaint. Opposite party Nos. 2 and 3 filed then -separate written reply, contesting the complaint of the complainant stoutly. It was averred in the preliminary objections that complicated questions of law and facts are involved in this case which require detailed evidence to examine them. The complainant entered the proposal for SBI Unit Plus II Pension Policy willingly. Rest of the averments regarding undue benefit of laymanship of the complainant were denied. It was further denied that the maturity amount of the above policy was Rs. 1.35 lacs. It was admitted that the complainant deposited the premium of Rs. 90,000 by withdrawing it from her account towards this policy premium. It was further averred that opposite party No. 1 accepted the premium paid by the proposer and the policy and in return thereof, it issued the policy to the purchaser. There is no deficiency in service or unfair trade practice on the part of opposite party Nos. 2 and 3 and they prayed for dismissal of the complaint.
(3.) IN support of her contentions, the complainant tendered in evidence her own affidavit Ex. C -1 along with proposal deposit receipt Ex. C -2, unpaid premium intimation Ex. C -3, legal notice Ex. C -4, Rejoinder/additional notice Ex. C -5, reply to legal notice Ex. C -6, postal receipts Ex. C -7 to Ex. C -10, Acknowledgement Receipts Ex. C -11 & Ex. C -12 and additional affidavit of complainant Ex. C -13. To rebut it, opposite party No. 1 tendered affidavit of V. Srinivas, Legal Head in SBI Life Insurance Co. as Ex. R -1, insurance policy documents Ex. R -2 & Ex. R -3. Ex. R -4 is the surrender application form signed by the complainant, Ex. R -5 is the submission of surrender value to complainant, Ex. R -6 is the legal notice notice, Ex. R -7 is the reply to legal notice, Ex. R -8 is the order of the Hon'ble National Commission in Revision Petition No. 2884 of 2010 decided on 10.12.2010, Ex. R -9 is the CDJ Law Journal, Ex. R -10 is the judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court reported as AIR 1996 SC 1644, Ex. R -11 is the order of the Hon'ble National Commission in Revision Petition No. 211 of 2009 decided on 2.2.2010, Ex. R -12 is another judgment of the Hon'ble National Commission reported as 1986 -95 Consumer 138 (NS) LIC of India v. M. Gowri & Ors., Ex. R -13 is the affidavit of J.K. Dogra, Manager, State Bank of Patiala, Ex. R -14 is the affidavit of Pawan Kumar, SWO, of State Bank of Patiala. On conclusion of evidence and arguments, the District Forum partly accepted the complaint of the complainant and directed the opposite parties to pay the amount of Rs. 21,412 being less of amount of Rs. 90,000 along with interest @ 12% p.a. from the date of its payment till realization of amount and to pay Rs. 5,000 as compensation. It was further held that the liability of the opposite parties is joint and several to comply with the order. Aggrieved by the impugned order, the appellant/opposite party No. 1 has preferred the appeal i.e. FA. No. 107 of 2012, SBI Life Insurance Company Limited v. Amrit Kaur & Ors., whereas opposite parties No. 2 and 3 filed separate appeal i.e. FA. No. 147 of 2012, State Bank of Patiala & Anr. v. Amrit Kaur & Anr.;